For the exhibition Danger Came Smiling: Feminist art and popular music historian Maria Elena Buszek brings together work by contemporary artists who use popular music as a medium, subject, and reference point for activist messages. The show, which will be on view through– January 1, 2017, takes the title of an album by the pioneering, unabashedly feminist punk band Ludus, led by artist Linder Sterling, whose career—emerging in the first wave of punk in the 1970s—reflects the approaches in this exhibition.
By the late 1970s, visual artists like Robert Longo, Barbara Kruger, and Jean-Michel Basquiat started bands, and musicians like DEVO, Talking Heads, and Ann Magnuson treated their music as performance art, blurring the lines between popular music and visual art in ways that have profoundly affected contemporary art ever since. The “No Wave” culture that emerged in this era is rife with examples: performers were as likely to present their work at the Danceteria as the Whitney Museum, and venues like Club 57, The Pyramid, and the Mudd Club and galleries like Fun, Gracie Mansion, and Artists Space all hosted both exhibitions and concerts, where popular music was emerging as its own “new medium.”
Years later, writer and Mudd Club habitué Kathy Acker would advise the young feminist art student Kathleen Hanna: “If you want people to hear what you’re doing…you should be in a band.” Hanna proceeded to become a prime mover in what soon became known as the Riot Grrrl movement by way of her band Bikini Kill, and continues performing agit-pop in bands like Le Tigre and The Julie Ruin.
Hanna’s career is just the most visible of subsequent generations of feminist artists inspired by popular music, which this exhibition will address through the work of artists like Wynne Greenwood, Eleanor King, Shizu Saldamando, and Xaviera Simmons, who use punk, hip-hop, electronica, and jazz as part of their studio practice, and a reflection of their politics. The Franklin Street Works café will also include an audio portion that serves as a “curated mixtape” of music that relates to the artists and history on display in the exhibition.
The gallery is open Tues. – Sun. 12 noon to 5 p.m. and is located on 45 Franklin Street in Stamford. There are 3-hour parking meters just outside the entrance to the gallery on Franklin Street that are free after 6 p.m., and 25 cents per 15 minutes before 6 p.m. There is also a lot with an attendant on Franklin Street just a couple of doors down on the right side of the street (closer to Broad Street) from Franklin Street Works. Rates are variable. There are also a number of parking garages nearby. The nearest are:Target Entrance on Broad; $1 for the first 2 hours, then $2/hour, $11/day. Summer Street Garage Entrances on Lower Summer, Broad or Washington Blvd. Northbound; $1/hour, $9/day, there is also an evening rate of $3/evening
Sat. & Sun. are free until 5pm.
For more area information www.visitfairfieldcountyct.com